On the Agora

The Evolution of a Public Space in Hellenistic and Roman Greece (c. 323 BC – 267 AD)


On the Agora traces the evolution of the main public square of the Greek polis for the six centuries from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the height of the Roman Empire and the Herulian invasion of Greece in 267 AD. Drawing on literary, epigraphic and, especially, archaeological evidence, the book takes a comparative approach to consider how the layout and function of agoras in cities throughout Greece changed during centuries that witnessed far reaching transformations in culture, society and political life. The book challenges the popular view of the post-Classical agora as characterised by decline, makes important arguments about how we use evidence to understand ancient public spaces and proposes many new interpretations of individual sites.

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Christopher Dickenson, Ph.D. (2012), University of Groningen, is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on public space, monuments and political culture in the post-Classical Greek city.
"This book traces the architectural evolution of the Greek agora in the post-Classical polis and represents a significant contribution to studies of urbanism and public space in the ancient world. The narrative of this evolution is driven by D.’s careful and critical examination of archaeological, literary and epigraphic evidence. (...) In short, this is a long and ambitious study that offers a fresh perspective on Hellenistic and Roman Greece." - Elizabeth P. Baltes, in: The Classical Review, 1-3 (published online: 13 December 2017)
"Overall, this volume provides a thorough presentation of the transformation of the Greek agora during the Hellenistic and Roman periods on the mainland. It will surely be an excellent reference for students and scholars who are working on civic architecture and urbanism." - Samantha L. Martin-McAuliffe, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.02.06
" A good introductory section on the ambiguities in conceptually and physically defining an agora is followed by longer sections on the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Dickenson (Oxford) reexamines archaeological and literary evidence from the ground up with no assumptions (...) This book is also useful as an up-to-date review of current thinking on Greek and Roman public spaces (religious, economic, and political) and city design in general. Color and black-and-white photos and diagrams and remarkably clear, pleasant writing make this work suitable for all levels. Although everything is skillfully historically contextualized, no extensive knowledge of Greek history is assumed: even persons broadly interested in urbanism may enjoy this book." - T. Doran, in: Choice Connect, July 2017
"Der Verf[asser] legt folglich nicht nur eine archäologisch-architekturgeschichtliche, sondern darüber hinaus auch kulturgeschichtliche Studie vor. Die Breite der Quellenbasis ebenso wie die inhaltliche Tiefe sind beeindruckend: Neben den architektonischen Resten sind auch die Inschriften und Texte antiker Autoren berücksichtigt (...) Die inhaltliche Argumentation ist stets breit abgestützt und ausgewogen, der Verf[asser] gibt Diskussionen viel Raum und lässt zahlreiche Stimmen aus der Sekundärliteratur zu Wort kommen. Immer wieder, manchmal auch etwas redundant, wendet sich der Verf. gegen klassizistisch stereotype Forschungsmeinungen, denen er sein neues Bild der griechischen Agora im Hellenismus und der Kaiserzeit gegenüberstellt: vital, selbstbestimmt und heterogen. (...) Aus dem Gesagten dürfte klargeworden sein, dass der Verf. mit dem vorliegenden Buch eine längst überfällige, beeindruckende und zeitgemäße Neuinterpretation der hellenistischen und römischen Agora in Griechenland vorgelegt hat." - Matthias Grawher, in: Anzeiger für die Altertumswissenschaft 70 (December 2017)
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